As occurs at this time of year as the seasons change, I found my classroom was like a furnace – the AC would not work while it seemed like the heating was going full blast. Five minutes of teaching in that jungle-like condition convinced me that immediate action was required. A brief consultation with the students resulted in a plan for an alfresco class. Ten minutes later we were set up in the fresh air, with a mobile whiteboard, all ready to discuss the ins and outs of international trade remedies.
I readily admit that classes held outside suffer from reduced student attention, increased distractions (in our case an ultimate frisbee game on the Oval), intrusive noise (a power roller working on the cricket pitch) and curious onlookers. Sometimes the local flora and fauna also conspire to undermine the learning – but not this time. I also had no place to put my notes so they would be secure from the breeze and so I had to teach everything from memory (the finer points of anti-dumping duties ended up being overlooked).
BUT – there is something special about a class at the end of the semester that is held outside in the fresh Spring air. Most of us fondly remember those experiences (albeit with no memory at all of the content of those classes). Furthermore, I think a class on the grass, under the trees, in the wind and sun reflects the flexibility and open-minded approaches that are the hallmarks of academia. At the end of the class, despite the challenges, I think we all agreed that it was an excellent class, one to be added to other prized law school memories. Though if pressed, perhaps none of us could recall what we had discussed during those two fine hours.